Buster Berry awarded Tri-State Cowboy of the Year

Buster Berry was born March 5, 1933. The doctor rode horseback through a blizzard to deliver him at home in Farmingdale, S.D. He attended grade school in Bison and Farmingdale, S.D., and graduated from high school in New Underwood, S.D.

Buster married Mary Lou Hill in 1953. He served in the Army from 1954-56, and broke horses and was a cook for the Army. He was stationed in Germany during the Korean Conflict. Buster and Mary Lou came back to South Dakota and set up ranching. Buster ranched near Farmingdale and Scenic, S.D. before moving to Gordon, Nebraska in 1975.

Ranching was a way of life for Buster and Mary Lou and the six kids they raised: Deb, Roxanne, Wade, Bruce, Tracy, and Scott (Ote). Not only was ranching a livelihood, horses and cattle were an essential part of life. Buster felt that anything that could be done horseback should be-whether bringing in the milk cow or dragging in the Christmas tree, you were on a horse. His kids grew up on horseback-each riding a horse the three miles to a one-room prairie schoolhouse. Ranching wasn’t just where Buster lived-it was how he lived.

Buster was raised in a large part by his grandfather, a South Dakota cowman. However, Buster always wanted to be a rodeo cowboy. He was an integral part in the founding of the South Dakota State High School Rodeo, the second state to host a State High School Rodeo. Buster was only 16 at the time. He often competed in the saddle bronc riding and the steer wrestling. His greatest legacy, however, is the innumerable number of kids he helped to learn and love the sport of rodeo. Buster taught a countless number of kids how to rope, dog, and run the barrels. The number of rodeos he was at helping tie breakaway ropes, stringing barrier lines, setting up poles, drawing calves, hazing steers, pulling riggings, checking times and carrying the rule book is incalculable. His own children hold countless rodeo honors from the high school to the Professional level. It is noteworthy that the rodeo accomplishments of the Berry family were done astride horses that were ranch-born and raised. The same horse that drug a calf in to the branding pen on Friday was used for barrel racing on Saturday.

Buster was honored with a bronze statue in 2011 for his essential role in implementing the South Dakota State High School Rodeo. Buster has been a member of the American Quarter Horse Association for nearly 50 years and is a Life Member of the American Legion Post. He has also been a member of the. PRCA since 1963 and has been Gold Card Member of the PRCA since 1983.

Mary Lou passed away to cancer in 2009. Their six kids, 17 grandkids, and 11 great grandkids live across the Midwest. Few people have seen Buster without his hat and boots on, and he is still recognized and consulted by many at every rodeo he attends. At age 79, Buster still feels at home horseback. To borrow a little from Winston Churchill to sum up Buster’s philosophy: There’s something about the outside of a horse which is good for the inside of a man.

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